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Old 05-06-2007, 06:23 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 68 Overlander
...For faster charging, you will need a boost or bulk mode to force the current into the batteries faster...
Can someone (68 Overlander or ???) be more specific about how this would be done? Connect a faster charger directly to the battery terminals? If so, is it necessary to disconnect the batteries from the trailer?

Thanks,

Titus
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Old 05-06-2007, 06:56 PM   #16
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On the subject of battery charging, I've noticed that, when stored for the winter, the idiot lights in the Airstream will show a full charge for several weeks and then, from one day to the next, drop to 1/4 charge or less. I've yet to see a 3/4 or 1/2 charge indication. Once the indicator does the death spiral, I plug the trailer back in and leave it for a week or so. Afterwards, it's good to go for anywhere from 2 to 3 weeks during the winter months. I plan to buy a cheap solar charger to stop the YoYo effect. During the summer the trailer gets enough use on the road or plugged in to mitigate any significant discharging.
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Old 05-06-2007, 07:26 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TitusLivy
Can someone (68 Overlander or ???) be more specific about how this would be done? Connect a faster charger directly to the battery terminals? If so, is it necessary to disconnect the batteries from the trailer?

Thanks,

Titus
Titus,

I believe that Randy was referring to the first charging stage of a 3-stage charger....the 'bulk' charge phase. This is done at the highest voltage (dependent on the battery type)) as the initial 'boost' for the battery. Each successive stage (equalization and float) produce less voltage with the float charge being a 'maintanance' charge.

Hope this helps!
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Old 05-06-2007, 10:16 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lewster
Titus,

I believe that Randy was referring to the first charging stage of a 3-stage charger....the 'bulk' charge phase...Hope this helps!
Aaaah, yes! A very helpful comment, Lewster, because I misunderstood the earlier post. I now see that the point was that battery charging could be improved by replacing the existing converter with a new, more sophisticated one (3-stage). But I mistakenly thought the point was that the batteries could be charged with a separate, "free standing" battery charger (also of the 3-stage variety). In other words, not an RV converter (which charges and distributes power to the trailer), but a completely dedicated battery charger. Hence my question: If you want to use a super sophisticated charger (as distinguished from an RV converter), should you disconnect the batteries first?

Let me rephrase the question now: Does anyone use a "free standing" (that is, a separate) battery charger to charge their batteries? Or, do people who want faster, better charging just replace their existing converter with a new (and presumably better) one?

I guess the reason I'm curious is because...well, because I'm becoming a little cynical about the quality of the components that are used in our trailers. I'm afraid I'm just not convinced that any of the RV converters are really as good as the best battery chargers. Please tell me I'm wrong. Then please also tell me that upgrading to such converters is both cheap and easy...and that I wouldn't be stupid if I performed such an upgrade on the brand new AS I just brought home a few weeks ago!! I'm tired of waiting several lifetimes for the batteries to recharge from my Parallax converter, and I'm...uh, I'm trying to be tactful here...I'm a little disappointed that AS charges top $$$ for its products but relies on less than leading edge converters.

Thanks!

Titus
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Old 05-07-2007, 06:47 AM   #19
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Titus,

I'm with ya! The FIRST thing I did was to replace the OEM Parallax with a WFCO converter, on the understanding that their charge circuitry was superior to the P-lax. So far I have not been dissapointed.

That said, I HAVE used an auxiliary charger on ocassion also and when I did, I disconnected the negative lead from the batteries that go into the trailer to isolate them. This as a safety measure so as to not give the converter any voltage feedback and to assure that ALL of the charger's output is going to the batteries.

I want those 2-6VDC Lifelines FUUULLLL!
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Old 05-07-2007, 07:03 AM   #20
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Titus,

I did the same as Lew; just this weekend installed a WFCO 3 stage charger (Parallax conversion) and Trimetric battery monitor. Bought it from Randy at bestconverter.com. Very easy install on both, true 3 stage charging and the Trimetric allows me to keep accurate track of my battery bank and power usage. Highly recommend both. jk
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Old 05-07-2007, 08:39 AM   #21
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Thanks for the very helpful feedback, Lewster & JK3500!

As a new AS-er, I'm really frustrated to see that my trailer is so close to being a home run...only to "fly out" due to some inferior systems and shoddy workmanship. So, it's very encouraging to hear that your mods to the electrical system have improved things so much.

Any way you can give us a more concrete idea of how much things have improved since you replaced your old set-up with your new one?

I'm really tempted to bite the bullet and follow in your tracks (new converter, new batteries), but I'm afraid I'll spend a lot of time and money and only get a 1% increase in performance.

Thanks again!

Titus
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Old 05-07-2007, 01:39 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TitusLivy
Thanks for the very helpful feedback, Lewster & JK3500!

As a new AS-er, I'm really frustrated to see that my trailer is so close to being a home run...only to "fly out" due to some inferior systems and shoddy workmanship. So, it's very encouraging to hear that your mods to the electrical system have improved things so much.

Any way you can give us a more concrete idea of how much things have improved since you replaced your old set-up with your new one?

I'm really tempted to bite the bullet and follow in your tracks (new converter, new batteries), but I'm afraid I'll spend a lot of time and money and only get a 1% increase in performance.

Thanks again!

Titus
Titus,

Can't give you alot of feedback on the 3 stage charger as I just installed it. A number of other folks on this forum have installed that converter and I have only heard good feedback. I can say my trailer is plugged in right now and the Trimetric is showing a solid float voltage of 13.7.

The Trimetric is very impressive. A little complicated at first setting it up (I am still learning what the correct parameters to set) but gives you the ability to accurately monitor virtually every aspect of your power system, state of charge, Ah usage, etc. Been reading the "Managing 12 Volts" book that came with the converter and learning alot about how to manage a 12 volt system.

The batteries I upgraded to are 244 Ah 6 volt golf cart batteries. I think the 244 Ah should be sufficient for my power needs with a generator. Eventually hope to add solar, which should definitely meet all my needs. The biggest advantage of solar, from what I have read, is it is very good at recharging the last 20-25% to completely charge the batteries (where charging with a generator is not very efficient).

I wouldn't knock Airstream too bad on the converter, as I have heard the Parallax is actually a pretty good charger, though only a single stage (I do think they should at least should have installed more than one battery). Bottom line, many that buy these trailers don't stray far from full hookups, in which case a 3 stage charger is overkill and would further drive up the cost of the trailer. jk
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Old 05-07-2007, 03:49 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JK3500
The Trimetric is very impressive...
Thanks for all this very useful info, JK. Couple questions:

1. Where did you install the meter for the Trimetric?

2. Was it hard to run the wires to that location? I know how to "fish" wire through standard conduit or through a "stick built" wall...but how do you do it in a trailer?

Thanks again!

Titus
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Old 05-08-2007, 05:35 AM   #24
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Titus,

I installed the shunt in the very front of the trailer (inside) under the bed, where the battery cables come inside the trailer from the tongue. The shunt is spliced into the negative battery cable. Several wires then connect to the shunt and one connects to the positive battery cable. Ran the cable along the left side of the trailer, inside the closet, and mounted the Meter itself on the side of the closet at eye level, next to the kitchen overhead cabinet. The only hole I drilled was to run the wire from the monitor to inside the closet. I will try and get a few pictures this week and post them to give you a better idea of the locations and install. TriMetric Battery Monitor has pretty good photos of how the trimetric attaches to the shunt.

Also, I would highly recommend the "Managing 12 volts" book. Randy sends one free with the WFCO converters and it is a very informative, well written book. For me it has taken alot of the mystery out of 12 volt systems and I now have a much greater understanding how my electrical system works and how to effectively manage it. Hope this helps. jk
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Old 05-08-2007, 08:42 AM   #25
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Yes, JK, this is very helpful info! Look forward to seeing the pix when you get time to post them.

Got another question for you (and others) re battery charging. Have you thought about whether your tow vehicle's alternator is a suitable charger for your batteries? In other words, you've now got those slick AGM batteries and a great converter to keep them topped off...but is the typical late-model TV's alternator suitable for charging them?

The issue is whether the alternator provides 3-stage charging (or even needs to). I ask because I saw another post (http://www.airforums.com/forums/f449...cle-11414.html) from Marshall Swartz, an AS owner who installed a very sophisticated (and expensive) device to provide 3-stage charging from his TV. Marshall's setup is leading edge, but I'd like to know more about these issues before I charge off into such high-tech mods.

Thanks again! I really appreciate the helpful info.

Titus
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Old 05-13-2007, 07:16 PM   #26
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Titus,

As promised, here are the pics. I mounted the meter on the side of the closet, about eye level. the only hole drilled (other than mounting the shunt) was to run the wire through the closet. you can see the wire rinning down the inside of the closet (still need to secure to the wall). From there the wire (which is actually 4 wires secured in a sheath) runs along the bottom of the closet to the front of the trailer underneath the bed. Bottom line, you really just need to find a good place to mount the meter so it is easy to read but also easy to route the wires to.

The last picture (.pdf file) shows the shunt spliced into the negative battery cable where it enters the trailer. It's a pretty big mess of wires down there but not really hard to determine which are the battery cables as they were the bigest wires coming in from the floor. 3 of the 4 Trimetric wires are then connected to the shunt and the shunt is secured to the floor with two small wood screws. At the top of the photo you can see the Trimetric positive wire connected to where the Positive battery cable connects to whatever it is it connects to there. Bottom line you want to splice the shunt to the negative battery cable as close to the battery as possible and the positive wire to the positive cable, again, as close to the battery as possible (before anything else connects to it).

Programming the Trimetric is harder than installing it. Read the Trimetric instructions and the Managing 12 volts book several times and you will get a good idea what parameters to set. I am still playing with that part.

Hope this helps. Good luck if you decide to get one! jk
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Old 05-14-2007, 07:10 PM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JK3500
As promised, here are the pics...jk
JK, thanks for posting these pics and for explaining how you completed this project. It really looks slick. I like the way you installed the shunt, too...heat shrink tubing and all.

Somehow I'm not surprised to hear that one of the toughest parts was making sense of the manual. But now that you've got it up and running, it seems like it should be a big win. When I get the time, I think I'll try to follow in your footsteps.

Thanks again!

Titus
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Old 05-16-2007, 07:34 AM   #28
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Interesting thread.

After a week without hookups, I was disappointed to find on our new unit that I had to run our generator for 4-5 hours a day just to keep the batteries topped up! There isn't much load on the generator at all except for the first 10 seconds or so, and measurements show the recharge current is only about 5 or 6 A. A good 3 stage should charge initially at a much higher current and eliminate having to run the generator so long.

I am considering a Progressive Dynamics 3 stage converter/charger and the Xantrel Link 10.
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